Thailand

Bangkok Travel Blog

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We spent the majority of our time in Thailand taking tours through the hotel.  They were very reasonably priced and informative.  Every morning the tour bus would pick us at 7AM. 
 
The first day (which was actually the second because we arrived the night before) we went to The Rose Garden.  We rode elephants, got a kiss from an elephant, I held a large python, and we watched a show that showed a bunch of their traditional dances (very graceful) and explained the "dancing" in thai boxing.  That night when the tour bus dropped us off at our hotel we hopped on the subway and we went to a play at the Thai Cultural Center called Siam Niramit. The play was spectacular!!! The play was a performance of Thailand's art & cultural heritage.  The costumes, stage props and the special effects were the BEST I've ever seen.  If you ever go to Thailand I highly recommend it!
 
The second day we went to the ancient city of Ayutthaya.  On the way there we stopped by the Emperor's Summer Palace which actually didn't look very Asian at all (a little disappointing) and had mostly European architecture.  Ayutthaya was beautiful (even though it's crumbling).  I wish would could have seen more of it while we were there.  It's about 30 sq kilo meters surrounded by a man made mote.  It was the capital of Thailand from the 14th to the 18th century before it was attacked by the Burmese.  We went to 2 different locations within Ayutthaya.  One where the "temples" (well they weren't actual temples but we'll call them that for simplicity) were dark and pointed, and in another location were more red and rounded at the top.  Near the "darker" location there was an attractive temple that had a very large Buddha inside.  They also had elephant rides there and while we waited for some of the people on the tour with us to finish up we caught one of the elephants playing basketball.  It was very cute.  He was so determined to get the ball in the basket (he wasn't very good).  On the way to the more red location the tour guide stopped on the side of the road and bought sugar cane that looked hair and soft tortilla shells.  He wrapped the sugar cane in the tortilla shells and let everyone try it.  It was quite tasty and we looked for the sugar and tortilla shells during the rest of our stay in Thailand so we could have more...but we never saw them again.  In the more red location me and Adam climbed the stairs up the main "temple" (which was several stories high).  At the top we had a great view and we actually found a Buddha at the top of it.  We had to climb up on all fours because it was so steep and getting down was very scary.  In this location there were lots of Buddhas, obviously very old because most of them that weren't covered were missing heads and arms and basically falling apart.  We took a large boat back to Bangkok (it took 3 hours).  We had lunch and got to see how the locals live along the river & canals.  You can't tell what the actual shore looks like because houses are smushed together all along the shore.  They all have stairs (some also have a little pier) that lead right down to the water.  We saw people bathing, washing their dishes, washing clothes and brushing their teeth in this water. 
 
On the third day we went to the floating market.  Once we got out of Bangkok we took a speed boat through the canals to get there (and got to see more of how the locals live along the canals).  The floating market was quite interesting.  The locals use canoes to get around in these parts (they call this the Venice of the East).  The floating market was their market place.  The locals float around in their boats buying and selling various fruit, vegetables, crafts, etc.  We paid 20 baht (less than a dollar) for a ride in a canoe around the market for about 45 mins.  The main part of the market was along a strip.  There were so many boats passing through they all bump into each other and there are "traffic jams".  It was fun.  They had some very interesting fruit there which I have never seen before.  So of it was good and some of it wasn't. Overall it was pretty impressive.  When we left the floating market we stopped to watch a cobra show.  We actually got to pet a king cobra.  Fun stuff.  We also got to see how they get venom from them to make anti-venom and got a look at their teeth.  They showed us a pythons teeth as well....and they actually have more (and bigger) teeth then a venomous snake.  They also released various kinds of snakes in a ring and antagonized them.  From there we went to the Elephant Show & Crocodile Farm.  We took our picture with 2 full grown tigers (we got to touch them).  The elephant show was funny!  The elephants are so friendly and enthusiastic (especially the young ones).  They did relay races, danced and played the drums, and played soccer.  After the show we bought some bananas and fed the elephants.  The crocodile show was also interesting.  Two guys actually get in the water with crocodiles and drag them up on a platform.  Then they show us how fast they are when they bite down (it's so fast you can't see it you just hear it).  Then they got them to open their mouths again and stuck their hands and heads inside the croc's mouth.  They also had the baby elephants painting.
 
On the fourth and fifth day we took a trip to Pattaya (the beach...several hours away from Bangkok).  We took a speed boat to a small island off the coast called Coral Island and spent the day there.  My husband went parasailing.  Coral island was beautiful.  It was the prettiest beach I've ever seen (including Hawaii and Guam).  The beach was very clean, and the water was clear and green.  We rented a jet-ski and played in the warm water.  On the way back to Pattaya we rode in a boat with a glass bottom.  There wasn't much of a reef but there were lot of sea eurchens (sp? glad we didn't go snorkling).  That night when we got back to Pattaya we went to a "lady-boy" show (all the performers are actually transvestites).  Some of them were actually quite pretty.  The next day we spend the day lounging on the beach and renting jet-skies again. 
 
The Pattaya tour was our last tour.  The next day we took the sky train to the river and took a water taxi up the river to see the Grand Palace, the emerald Buddha (which was actually made out of jade), the reclining Buddha, and the Temple of Dawn.  All these places were also spectacular.  The architecture was really elaborate and very unique (unlike anything I've ever seen in Korea, Japan or China).  The buildings were very colorful and decorated with small pieces of colorful glass or ceramic pieces.

There was beautiful statues of various "guardians" all over the place.  The buddhas were all quite large and most were painted gold.  While we were in this area we saw quite a few monks.  They ranged from as young as 5 or 6 up to about 80 years old.  On one of our tours we learned that 90% of the male population in Thailand have been or will become a monk at some point in their life.  That night we went and watched thai boxing.  The boxing was interesting.  They do a funny little dance before they fight thats for good luck.  They then pray with their trainer.  The fighting was actually quite violent and there was some blood.  Three people got knocked out and one might have broken some ribs.  The fighters were pretty small, the heaviest one weighed only 127lbs.  Also this happen to be a Monday.  On one of our tours we learned that everyday of the week has it's own color.  Monday is yellow.  The king's color is also yellow because he was born on a Monday. EVERYBODY was wearing something yellow (they love their king).  It was kinda weird and amusing.  The tour guide also said that it was trendy to wear certain colors depending on the day of the week.  So every Monday they wear something yellow.  Every Friday they wear something blue, on Saturdays purple, etc.  We didn't notice this trend until Monday...probably because more people do it on Monday (then any other day of the week) to show love for their king.  Their king is very popular here.  They LOVE him.  Every where you go, every building you walk in to, you see shrines of him.  Also we saw no signs of the coup.  The only soldiers we saw during our time here was at the Summer Palace (day 2 trip).
 
The next day we shopped and finally had to leave Thailand.  Our hotel happen to be very close to two different night markets so every night when we would get home from our tours we'd go out to the night markets and shop and go out to eat.  The shopping here is good....but only if you know how to barter.  It was similar to China...when they see foreigners they immediately rise the price. So bartering is a must.  
 

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photo by: Deats